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25 Mar 2008 : Column 69W—continued

BAE Systems

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether her Department has responded formally to the US Department of Justice request for mutual legal assistance with regard to BAE Systems. [193923]

Meg Hillier: I refer the hon. Member to previous answers provided on this matter. I can confirm that the Home Office received a request for assistance from the USA in respect of corruption allegations concerning BAE Systems. The request is being dealt with in accordance with the bi-lateral treaty on mutual legal assistance between the UK and the USA. It would be inappropriate to comment further.

Burglary: Lancashire

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department is taking to reduce burglaries in Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency. [194723]

Mr. Coaker: The Home Office has encouraged the development, dissemination and implementation of a range of good practice in reducing burglary, including work under the Reducing Burglary Initiative.

In the Northern Division of Lancashire Constabulary, which covers Morecambe and Lunesdale, there is a dual approach to burglary, with prevention and education work combined with detection. Examples of prevention and education work include the Tower project, which is a project that aims to support criminals with substance misuse problems into moving away from criminal activity; and partnership approaches such as Police and
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Communities Together meetings and Neighbourhood Watch. The detection approach includes pro-active burglary teams, dedicated investigators, robust tasking and accountability process. Crime scene investigators visit all domestic burglary scenes, and there is a scheme in place to tackle repeat burglaries.

Lancashire police have also adopted Neighbourhood Policing, this means named officers patrol the area as part of a regular patch, based on ward boundaries. This is underpinned by an intelligence led and problem-solving approach to burglary.

Crime: Motor Vehicles

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department has taken to reduce car crime since 1997. [194784]

Mr. Coaker: Vehicle crime has dropped by 52 per cent. since 1997 according to the British Crime Survey.

Since 1997 the Government have worked closely with a range of partners including the motor industry and police to reduce car crime, for example by improving vehicle security. They established the Vehicle Crime Reduction Action team, published the Car Theft Index and, from 1999 to 2004, set a vehicle crime reduction target of 30 per cent., a target which was achieved. Government communications have aimed to change driver behaviour, such as not leaving items on view in cars. We have worked to increase the security of parking available for cars, and continue to work with the industry to find design solutions to crime problems. As a result of these activities large reductions have been achieved.

Where local areas experience problems with vehicle crime, we encourage local partners to adopt a rigorous problem-solving approach, using evidence and analysis and to make full use of good practice, toolkits and communications materials which is available to all via the Home Office website.

Criminal Records Bureau: Databases

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and what proportion of people whose details are recorded on the Criminal Records Bureau database have not been charged or convicted or otherwise received a penalty or sanction in relation to a criminal offence; and how many of such people are aged 16 years or under. [193851]

Meg Hillier: In processing disclosure applications the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) collates information which is held, owned and maintained by the police service, the Department for Children Schools and Families and the Department of Health respectively. Therefore, the CRB database does not hold the information requested.

Drugs: Schools

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps she has taken to prevent drug dealing at or near school gates in the last three years. [194808]


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Mr. Coaker: The Government have taken a tough stance to drug dealing on or in the vicinity of school premises. The Drugs Act 2005 introduced a provision which commenced on 1 January 2006 which made it an aggravating factor which courts must take into account when deciding the seriousness of a drug supply offence committed by a person aged 18 or over to deal drugs on or in the vicinity of school premises.

We supported the Association of Chief Police Officers in the development and production of their guidance published in 2006 to police forces on working with schools and colleges which includes advice to police forces about having locally agreed protocols in place to manage drug-related incidents in schools and colleges.

Genetics: Databases

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate she has made of the number of irregularities on the national DNA database. [181246]

Meg Hillier: A number of procedures carried out by police forces, forensic suppliers and the National DNA Database (NDNAD) Custodian’s staff are in place to ensure that information is recorded as accurately as possible on the NDNAD. These procedures are designed to ensure as far as possible that errors are not included on the database in the first place, rather than removing them once they are on.

If any irregular record comes to the notice of the NDNAD Custodian and his staff, the record is suspended on the database pending an investigation—the outcome of which is that the record may be re-instated unchanged, amended, or deleted.

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people from each police authority area in Yorkshire and the Humber had a sample of their DNA stored on the national DNA database at the latest date for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement. [193740]

Meg Hillier: The number of subject profiles retained on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) for each police force in the Yorkshire and Humberside area are shown in the following table. There are two figures for each force; the number of profiles and the estimated number of individuals. The number of profiles held on the database is not the same as the number of individuals. As it is possible for a profile to be loaded onto the NDNAD on more than one occasion, some profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates. This can occur, for example, if the person provided different names, or different versions of their name, on separate arrests, or because profiles are upgraded.

It should also be noted that the table shows the number of individuals sampled by each police force, and not the area where the people sampled are resident. For example, the figure for North Yorkshire includes people living outside North Yorkshire who have been sampled by that police force and excludes residents of North Yorkshire who have been sampled by other police forces.


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At present, the replication rate is 13.3 per cent. that is, the number of people whose details are loaded is 13.3 per cent. fewer than the number of profiles.

Police force Subject profiles Estimated number of individuals

North Yorkshire

55,879

48,447

South Yorkshire

117,023

101,459

West Yorkshire

214,362

185,852

Humberside

81,986

71,082


Human Trafficking: Children

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many trafficked children were taken into police custody following raids on illegal cannabis factories in each of the last three years. [191381]

Mr. Coaker: No central records are kept on juvenile offenders who may have been victims of trafficking. However concerns have been raised by a number of children's charities about the arrest of children found in cannabis factories in the UK.

A recent study by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) examined 39 cases of Vietnamese juveniles arrested during 2007 in such circumstances.

Out of the 39 children, one child was identified as a trafficked victim and referred to Children's Services.

In December 2007 the Crown Prosecution Service issued guidance which advises prosecutors that where children are known to have been trafficked and coerced to commit criminal acts, cases should be discontinued on evidential grounds. Where the information concerning coercion is less certain, further details should be sought from the police and youth offender teams, so that the public interest in continuing a prosecution can be considered carefully.

Immigrants: Employment

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government plan to take to stop employers employing illegal immigrants. [194133]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 14 March 2008]: The Border and Immigration Agency is increasing enforcement activity against illegal working in general. Steps have been taken to strengthen the law preventing employers from using illegal migrant workers. The law in this area applies to employers or agencies in all sectors of the economy.

The Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 introduced a system of civil penalties for careless employers and a criminal offence of knowingly employing illegal workers. This came into force on 29 February 2008.

The maximum level of civil penalty is £10,000 and the criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant will attract a prison term of up to two years as well as an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment.


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Immigration Officers

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department has taken to ensure that immigration officers are able to take the breaks to which they are entitled during working hours. [193128]

Mr. Byrne: Immigration Officers are scheduled to take breaks during their shifts; on operational duties the timing of breaks may need to be flexible but there are opportunities to take rest and refreshment breaks

Immigration: Applications

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department with reference to the answer of 9 May 2007, Official Report, column 247W, on immigration applications, and her letter of 21 December 2007, reference G1002712, when she will provide a substantive written response to the issues raised. [193480]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 11 March 2008]: I wrote to the hon. Member on 11 March 2008.

MI5

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what arrangements are in place for (a) giving notice to her and (b) seeking leave from her by the Director General of the Security Service (DGSS) in relation to the making of speeches on matters within his responsibilities, with particular reference to the DGSS's speech to the Society of Editors on 5 November 2007; [162124]

(2) when she was first informed of the (a) delivery date and (b) content of the speech delivered by the Director General of the Security Services on 5 November 2007 to the Society of Editors. [162271]

Mr. McNulty [holding answer 12 November 200 7 ]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has regular meetings and discussions with the Director General of the Security Service on a wide range of subjects.

National Identity Register

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances local authorities will have access to the National Identity Register. [194030]

Meg Hillier: There will be no general access to the National Identity Register. However, identity services will provide accredited organisations, which could include local authorities, with the means to verify identity, with an individual's consent, against the National Identity Register. There are no plans to provide local authorities with information from the National Identity Register without obtaining consent from the individual which would require the specific approval by Parliament of regulations under section 20 of the Identity Cards Act 2006.


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Organised Crime: Databases

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the European database of dangerous offenders to prevent homicide associated with organised crime is expected to be operational; and what funding her Department has allocated to the database. [194281]

Meg Hillier: The project to develop a European database of dangerous offenders is in the very early stages and no timetable for its becoming operational has yet been set out.

No funding has been allocated by the Home Office.

Refuges: Females

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment she has made of the (a) demand for and (b) provision of places in refuges for women who are drug users. [195402]

Mr. Iain Wright: I have been asked to reply.

We do not hold this information centrally. Decisions on the provision of refuge spaces are a local matter. It is the responsibility of the individual local authority to identify any gaps in service provision and put in place appropriate solutions to address this. We would expect local authorities to build services based on the needs of their communities, taking account of locally available information.

The Department funds UKRefugesonline (UKROL), a UK-wide database of domestic violence services delivered in partnership by Women’s Aid and Refuge which supports the national 24-hour free phone domestic violence helpline. It enables those working with victims of domestic violence to identify appropriate services and potential refuge vacancies around the country. UKROL produce the UK Gold Book, a guide to refuge and domestic abuse services, every two years. This indicates that there are 20 service providers supporting drug users.

Scotland

Departmental Cost Effectiveness

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress his Department has made in its zero-based budget review under the Comprehensive Spending Review. [191481]

David Cairns: The comprehensive spending review settlement for the Scotland Office and the Office of the Advocate General for Scotland was agreed with HM Treasury as a three year settlement, fully taking account of efficiency savings. Further information on the provision will be contained in the Office’s Annual Report, due to be published later this year.


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Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Business: Females

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with reference to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Financial Statement of 12 March 2008, Official Report, columns 285-298, how the £12.5 million capital fund for female entrepreneurs will be allocated; and if he will make a statement. [194829]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have made a commitment to provide £12.5 million of capital to set up a fund to invest primarily in women-led businesses, as part of its Enterprise Strategy published alongside Budget 2008. Capital for Enterprise Limited, which will deliver the Department’s venture capital and loan activity from 1 April 2008, have been tasked with designing the fund and will invite proposals in the summer. Fund managers will be selected on merit through open competition.


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